With the end of the Mayan calendar possibly coming before the time we see the NBA again, the new NBA Jam is about as good as a substitute as we could hope for. To celebrate the release of NBA Jam: On Fire Edition, they had Shaq (with a mysterious blueish hue) put his own spin on the NBA Jam series' signature over the top commentary. My personal favorite is a tie between "Frame this for yo momma!" and "freaky deaky dunka potamus!"
I actually downloaded this the other day on a whim and I must say it's absolutely fantastic. I mostly downloaded it because the NBA Jam announcer's phrases have become part of my daily lexicon since I picked this up for Super Nintendo, but it's pretty great and the commentary is thankfully still as wild as ever. Plus, it's always satisfying to see Chris Kaman do three flips before slamming it down over Rik Smits (there's a substantial amount of historic players in the game).
So far I haven't found a team that can compete with the greatest videogame team of all-time, the Seattle SuperSonics (Kemp and Payton) from the OG edition of NBA Jam. Still, few things I've found as satisfying as two hand shoving fools online 40 times a game with Bill Laimbeer in videogames. If you got $15 and are fiending for some NBA basketball, definitely consider picking this one up.
Indy 500 champ Dan Wheldon was tragically killed in yesterday's season ending IndyCar race in Las Vegas. Ben praised SportsCenter's handling of the story this morning, but ABC's live coverage is also worth lifting up. The 15 car accident that involved Wheldon caused a red flag that stopped the race for over an hour. With no updates on Wheldon's condition, the somber mood of the commentators and the interviews for such a lengthy race delay told the viewer something was seriously wrong without saying the words.
As I was watching the NFL like every other Sunday in the Fall, I kept turning back to ABC to see what was happening and if there was an update on Wheldon's condition after I found out about the crash on Twitter. I'm more of a race fan than the average sports fan, but admittedly haven't watched a lot of racing in the last five years. IndyCar racing is nowhere near as popular as it was in its heyday in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. There are a number of factors involved including the rise in NASCAR, the CART/IndyCar split, and the current sports landscape. I can tell you though that the Indy 500 is by far my favorite event to attend as a sports fan. In fact, one of the races I attended was Dan Wheldon's rookie year in 2003 when he flipped upside down coming out of Turn 3 late in the race.
The thrill and speed of auto racing is unmatched in sports, but so is the danger, as it always has been. My dad attended the Indy 500 for many years and was there in 1964 for the firery crash that killed Eddie Sachs and Dave MacDonald. That horrifying crash introduced safer fuels, and the advancements in safety have greatly improved thoughout the decades. Sometimes, that only happens after the worst on-track events sadly. However, any advance in safety can never fully remove the chance the worst tragedy can strike. It's unfortunate that only after a great racer's death do we actually think about the extreme danger in auto racing and pay tribute to what these drivers are willing to risk for a great sport they love, like Dan Wheldon.
Wheldon was a brilliant driver and a captivating personality. An IndyCar series champion, two-time Indy 500 champion, and someone who drove and lived with charisma and flair often lacking in a sport defined by robotic drivers whose public relations consist of little more than thanking sponsors. The cruel irony of the day was that Wheldon had regained a full-time ride in the morning with Michael Andretti, replacing Danica Patrick (moving to NASCAR) in the GoDaddy car. Wheldon had won Indy as a parttime driver and spent the year testing the new 2012 car for the series. He was racing in Vegas as part of a gimmicky $5 million sponsorship deal that offered a huge cash bonus to any non-regular driver that could win from the back of the field. Yahoo Sports has a great reflection on Wheldon's last year and his life that is worth the read.
It's an impossible situation for a broadcast, but the ABC booth of Marty Reid, former Indy 500 champ Eddie Cheever, and Scott Goodyear and the pit reporters were appropriately somber and hopeful that good news would emerge regarding Wheldon. I've always loved Cheever on broadcasts because of his thoughtfulness and outspokenness. The inner conflict within him and Goodyear as broadcasters and racers was laid out for viewers as they discussed the danger of the race at Vegas, the safety of the cars, and their inner drive to push the ultimate limit.
As soon as a drivers meeting was called, I expected the worst. When the drivers emerged not doing interviews and teams were seen hugging and praying, the worst was coming.
The network missed the official announcement of Wheldon's death and only caught the tail end of the announcement made by CEO Randy Bernard. It's tough to criticize ABC though imagining the chaos behind the scenes. But, Marty Reid made the announcement and ABC went forward with poignant coverage of the five lap tribute to Dan Wheldon. Dario Franchitti was shown in his cockpit crying, team members and drivers were shown consoling each other on pit lane and the broadcast crew didn't need to add many words to capture the moment. Covering this event is nothing a broadcast can prepare for, but ABC did as good as could be expected paying tribute to Wheldon and covering the tragedy appropriately. ABC then went silent for the five lap tribute in what was perhaps the most graceful, heartwrenching sports television I've ever seen. The video of the tribute is below, including Marty Reid's heartfelt sendoff at around the 10:50 mark in the video...
"Many people ask me why I always sign off 'Till we meet again.' Because goodbye is always so final. Goodbye, Dan Wheldon." - Marty Reid
Big news in broadcasting today as ESPN announced it has signed MNF analyst Jon Gruden to a five year "exclusive" deal that will keep him out of coaching and off the sidelines for the length of the deal. The deal starts in 2012, so that means you'll be hearing "THIS GUY" through the 2016 season. Below are quotes from ESPN Executive VP Norby Williamson and Gruden himself on the extension...
"Our Monday Night Football crew is special, and to have the opportunity to continue to be a part of this team, working these big-time NFL prime time games every week on ESPN, I’m fired up," - Jon Gruden
“Jon has made a remarkable transition from Super Bowl-winning head coach to one of the premier football analysts in our business. His long-term commitment to ESPN will continue to elevate our Monday Night Football presentation and we look forward to finding even more opportunities to take advantage of his passion for football and unique insights into the game.” - Norby Williamson
We poke fun at Gruden's "this guys" and constant praise for everyone that enters an NFL stadium, but hopefully this decision to stay in the booth for an extended period of time will give him the freedom to be a bit more cutting in his analysis. Whether you love or hate Gruden as an analyst, the games are more interesting with his energy and unique personality. Crappy MNF games (Jets/Dolphins, hello!) don't help, but Gruden brings insight and enthusiasm to the booth. He has the potential to be this generation's John Madden with ESPN's multiplatform capabilities including Gruden's QB Camp, and his enjoyable work on the NFL Draft.
I like Gruden in the booth and think he adds something to Monday Night Football at ESPN. It's a coup for the leader to sell the "exclusiveness" of the deal as it will apparently lock him in the booth for the foreseeable future.
And, it means Gruden will be a perennial contender for the Dickies! That's a not so subtle way to promote our NFL Pammy Awards, so tweet and comment your best Grudenisms to us tonight!
And, most of all, it's five more years of chances for Gruden to say the name SAN-ZEN-BACH-ER!!!
The heavy hitters are out in full force this week as all of our Pammy leaders come strong. Quite a few innuendo filled, probably-taken-out-of-context, giggle inducing quotes fill our Week 7 nominees. The fact that are first quote involves "Trojans" "come" and "Giggity" is enough to let you know the direction of the Pammies this week. Also, don't forget to stay tuned tomorrow for our first ever Straight Outta Stockton nominees for the NFL version of the Pammies. Who knows, we may also put the winning college and NFL quotes together each week for a vote and search for our Ultimate Quote Of The Year?
As a reminder as to how the Pammy vote works, each week we'll nominate 15-20 quotes for you to pick the best 10. The winning quote of the week will earn that person 10 points all the way down to 1 point for 10th. Remember, you can vote for your favorite five quotes. Here are your Week 7 nominees...
1) "Six Trojans are going to come" - CraigJames (via SenatorGiggity)
2) "Well-dressed Joe Tessitore eats well, is a legend." - Jesse Palmer (via BenBeach) is just killing it tonight.
3) "When that USC band started to play, what was the first thing we thought? Trojans." - Craig James (via jasondschwartz)
4) "I think he did a one handed job right there." - Rod Gilmore (via jamiedupler)
5) "When Cousins is hot, he's the best passer in the game." - Dave Pasch (via bjo109). Kirk Cousins? Really? Really?
6) "he's a dirty player. i'm not saying he's a dirty player but he's on his way to being a dirty player." - Chris Spielman (via bjo109)
7) "Sometimes I think you out-create yourself." - Matt Millen (via sctvman)
8) "You are hearing Rocky Top the national anthem of Tennessee" - Verne Lundquist (via many)
9) "A good job squirting through there!" - Pam Ward (via sctvman)
10) "Tebow would be here tonight, but he's starting for the Broncos tomorrow." - Brent Musburger (via davidreeves9071). Tebow was on a bye. I guess you wouldn't know watching ESPN this week though.
11) "Momentum has no allegiance, but right now it's on the Vanderbilt sideline." - Bob Rathbun (via JoeKovacJr)
12) "I knew right away because it felt different under there." - Gary Danielson (via sjwest86) on accidentally lining under a guard
13) "The Tigers need to win two games, but they can't do that without a victory tonight."- Charles Davis (via KSJ49) during ALCS promo
14) "Every time Clemson gets slapped in the face, they get off the mat." - Clay Matvick (via glokkenspx)
15) "Arizona won't be outscored in this one" - Lee Corso (via bjo109) when talking about ASU/Oregon
16) "What a good get off he had." - Matt Millen (via sjwest86)
Vote For Your Week 7 Pammy Nominees! (vote for up to five)
The winners will come Wednesday morning so make sure you vote early and often and check back for the full Week 8 announcing sked later this week!
To ESPN and SportsCenter's credit, they opened the week's most revered edition of the highlight show jumping right into Wheldon story and staying with it for a full eleven minutes. Solid coverage from multiple angles including a very nice tribute by Jeremy Schaap. Halfway through SportsCenter, another well done six minutes of coverage surrounding Wheldon's death.
Now the knee jerk reaction from our readers might be "So what? That's what they should have done." While I certainly think it was the smart way to go, it was definitely not a clear cut decision.
Sunday SportsCenter during football season is an institution. You have "The Blitz", Sunday Conversation, pumping MNF, an elimination game in the NLCS, the first BCS standings, major injury news (Jason Campbell and Marcus Lattimore), QB benchings (Grossman and McNabb), and some interesting stories of the day like the Harbaugh and Schwartz handshake.
Multiple guests are slated to do segments, some of the better anchors (Levy and Cohn) are on hand, and there is just a massive amount of ground to cover. In a nutshell, SportsCenter is ESPN's flagship and Sunday Night SportsCenter during football season is quintessential piece of non live event programming the network has.
Indycar racing is not a first tier sport in America. To be honest, I don't really know if it's even in the second tier. The vast majority of our readers and general sports fans probably could have not have told you heading into today where today's race was held, who won this year's Indy 500, or name 5 Indycar drivers.
ESPN could have skimped on the coverage here if they chose to do so and it wouldn't have been a big deal. Instead of the first eleven minutes and six more, they could have maybe done something like two five minute segments on the death and not opened with the story.
With all that was going on in the world of sports, as long as the coverage of Wheldon's death was sensitive and substantial, there really wouldn't be any blowback cutting the corners surrounding the story.
For all the crap we and others out there give The Worldwide Leader, credit to ESPN here for not marginalizing this story and covering the tragedy with vigor. Certainly not ideal to condense an overloaded SportsCenter by more than 25%, but a smart decision that showed integrity and compassion.
Of course our thoughts and prayers go out to Wheldon, his family, his teammates, and the Indycar racing community.
Viewers who stuck around for the final moments of Oregon vs. Arizona State were treated to a memorable testy exchange between Chip Kelly and an overexuberant fan. Swarming around Kelly, who was starting his post game interview with Erin Andrews, was an overzealous fan met with a very terse "Hey! Will you just shut up?" from the Oregon head coach. Video below:
A couple of things strike me as odd in the clip. Do Oregon fans really rush the field when solidly beating an opponent that was a 15 point underdog? Is Chip Kelly always this surly after beating a ranked team by two scores?
The odd thing is that post game clusterf*cks around on field interviews is nothing new for college football or even college basketball. The chaos around Kelly and Andrews, while potentially a bit loud, was pretty modest compared to some of the pandemonium you can see moments after a game. Apparently Kelly likes a more calm and relaxing atmosphere when given the opportunity to humbly brag about his football team to Erin Andrews.
To her credit, Andrews cracked a smile thanked Kelly, and then immediately put the game face back on and finished out the interview. Musberger would also poke fun of the incident immediately after insinuating he knew it was internet gold.
Not a big deal but certainly an off-color moment for Kelly who showed a bit of a short fuse and unexpected exasperation in what should have been a more celebratory moment.
With Craig James and Mike Patrick getting a week off today, I tried to do a little extra research on Twitter and go beyond the Pammies submissions to make sure we found all the awful Craig James quotes from Thursday night. Somehow, I wasn't disappointed, as there were some "exspecially" good ones out there in the Twitterverse. You can check the full Pammy standings and the Week 7 announcing sked below. Gameday is in Eugene for Oregon/ASU later tonight, but there are some other interesting games throughout the day. Leave us the most flabbergasting quotes in the comments below or by tweeting us. And, don't forget the first ever week of the soon to be named NFL Pammies start tomorrow, so come back on Sunday for even more fun!
The above pic from last week's Steelers/Titans game via Guyism may be my favorite screengrab of all-time. Somehow I had the game on when this play happened. After this pic, the referees then turned around and pointed the opposite way like it was some sort of rehearsed Three Stooges scene. Welcome to Roger Goodell's NFL.
Reader nyybrandonc sent in the following pic from ESPN.com. Seems the leader is a bit confused as to which team Ryan Raburn plays for. Who can blame them though, when was the last time ESPN actually cared about baseball?
I had to go back and check the boxcore, but I believe these stats from Oklahoma's win over Texas in the "Big Red Shootout" are actually correct. According to the Longhorn Network, the game was an exhibition designed to make Oklahomans feel better about themselves. At least ESPN bothered to spell Oklahoma right this week... (via ktquick)
Jason Ross tweeted in this snafu from the ALCS where someone in the Fox control room may have been falling asleeeeeeeeeeeep at the keyboard. Probably from listening to Joe Buck sleepwalk his way through a broadcast wishing he were anywhere else in the world other than a baseball game...
Can you spot the snafu here from the Red Zone Channel during last Sunday's NFL action? Look closely... (h/t TlkSuperstation via @richiewhitt)
From springrubber, "Apparently the Rangers played an ALDS Game 5 without anyone knowing..."
I'm actually scared to admit this... but I routinely watch ESPN2's First Take. You know, the show that runs opposite SportsCenter weekday mornings and "stars" Skip Bayless somehow making a living out of being... well, Skip Bayless. The show had a simple enough premise - take a loudmouthed, polarizing contrarian (Bayless), have him take part in debates, and sprinkle in expert analysis, news, and relevant interviews. Debates were even marketed as 1st & 10 and appeared later in the afternoon. To be honest, in spite of Skip's professional, theatrical douchebaggery, the show was watchable... especially for someone that operates a blog called Awful Announcing.
But recently, the show has gone from entertainingly awful (like an intentionally wretched scary movie where we're supposed to be in on the joke) to just awful awful (think Ecks vs Sever or Battlefield Earth). Skip Bayless is more empowered and ridiculous than ever (the troubling part is his incredible self-awareness). The interview and news segments are largely gone. Now, the show largely focuses on Skip Bayless: Villain Of The Sporting Universe. First Take has gotten away from the diversity that made it tolerable, to a revolving door of ESPN analysts and columnists to argue with Bayless. If you're thinking this gets old quickly... it does.
Nevertheless, I was particularly intrigued by Wednesday's First Take from this week because of the perfect storm that had the potential to produce the single most awful sports show of all-time. Not only was Screamin' A. Smith in to debate Skippy, not only was a pointless, in jest LeBron James tweet to John Clayton treated as breaking news, but we also had the story of the decade in sports - Tim Tebow being named the starter in Denver.
Since the summer months and Merril Hoge's rant out of nowhere, Tim Tebow has been ESPN's obsession. Let me be clear - I like Tim Tebow. I like that he takes a stand for who he is, I buy into his character, I believe he's a good guy that may or may not find success in the NFL. Whatever. Let him play it out. End of story, right? No. ESPN has made Tebow into some sort of Frankenstein character and debated his quarterbacking skills, personality, character, hygiene, sex life, and everything in between. It's nauseating. They have shoved so much Tebow down our throats that 98% of the country hates him because of how much ESPN (and other networks - I'm looking at you CBS, Fox, and everyone else) have obsessed over him. It makes Brett Favre look like an under the radar player.
So, facing a two hour show of Skip Bayless, Stephen A. Smith, Tim Tebow, and LeBron James, I did what any insane, mentally imbalanced sports blogger would do. I dived headfirst into an in-depth statistical study and retro blog on Wednesday's First Take. Do I need a psych eval? Probably. Do I feel like scooping my eyeballs out with a melon baller? Possibly. Did I discover some disturbing, horrifying statistics that you want to read and laugh about? Absolutely...
Fox has the doubleheader this week, so Dallas/New England is the national game in the 4:00 window. With Joe Buck on MLB Playoff duty, Thom Brennaman comes into the "A" booth alongside Troy Aikman. The 1:00 and 4:00 slates are particularly strong with Saints/Bucs, Texans/Ravens, 49ers/Lions, and Panthers/Falcons all worth a look.
Buffalo Bills @ New York Giants (CBS 1PM) Jim Nantz, Phil Simms Jacksonville Jaguars @ Pittsburgh Steelers (CBS 1PM) Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts Indianapolis Colts @ Cincinnati Bengals (CBS 1PM) Kevin Harlan, Solomon Wilcots San Francisco 49ers @ Detroit Lions (FOX 1PM) Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, Tony Siragusa Philadelphia Eagles @ Washington Redskins (FOX 1PM) Sam Rosen, Brian Billick, Laura Okmin St. Louis Rams @ Green Bay Packers (FOX 1PM) Chris Myers, Tim Ryan Carolina Panthers @ Atlanta Falcons (FOX 1PM) Dick Stockton, John Lynch
Houston Texans @ Baltimore Ravens (CBS 4PM) Greg Gumbel, Dan Dierdorf Cleveland Browns @ Oakland Raiders (CBS 4PM) Marv Albert, Rich Gannon Dallas Cowboys @ New England Patriots (FOX 4:15PM) Thom Brennaman, Troy Aikman, Pam Oliver New Orleans Saints @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (FOX 4:15PM) Ron Pitts, Jim Mora
Minnesota Vikings @ Chicago Bears (NBC 8:20PM) Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Michele Tafoya
Monday, October 17
Miami Dolphins @ New York Jets (ESPN 8:30PM) Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden, Ron Jaworski
Bye Week: Arizona Cardinals , Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs, San Diego Chargers, Seattle Seahawks, Tennessee Titans